It goes without saying that everyone is struggling in some way due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are feeling the impact at unimaginable levels — and when it comes to the businesses and people who are feeling it the most, we know it’s the small business owners and hourly workers who are taking the biggest hits. Businesses everywhere are forced to make hard decisions — and this includes the fitness industry — to lay off employees, and to brave the unknown of whether or not they will be able to come out from all of this on the other side or be forced to close for good.
At a time like this, many of us are leaning into wellness and looking for an escape from the daily stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of what is happening. That is especially true for those of us that frequent fitness studios, gyms, and other wellness spots. I know I look forward to my daily streaming workout, since it’s the only place where for 1 hour I can turn on a workout, tune out the noise, and focus on feeling strong, positive, and out of my head.
Even with most studios’ doors closed, and so many trainers without work, many in the fitness and wellness community are doing all they can to share free fitness content and resources — sharing live IG workouts or Youtube videos to keep us fit and sane when most of us are confined to our homes or tiny NYC apartments. And while it might look like the fitness industry is booming when you consider the amount of people streaming workouts at home — it’s important to keep in mind that streaming free or paid content can only go so far when it comes to keeping businesses running and paying bills.
As a fitness and health writer in the industry, I have talked with many brands and trainers in the space this week. While they are happy to help people have a healthy and positive escape at home right now, I think what many of them are not saying openly is that they are struggling to make ends meet since this situation could go on for quite some time. I’m no finance/business expert, but when you think about how much studios/brands charge for streaming, typically one month of streaming access costs the same as one class IRL. And even with an increase in streamers, I imagine the money coming in right now looks nothing like a typical week of business IRL. And there are countless instructors who depend on hourly or per class pay who just are out of work completely right now since they only get paid when they teach IRL. Studio owners still have to pay bills, leases on space, employees etc. even with the doors closed and that’s a lot of money in cities like NYC and Los Angeles.
Since I am so grateful for the amazing and inspiring fitness community (and I’m sure you are too), I feel for them and want to help find ways to support them right now. I know times are hard for many, but if you do have the means to help in another way, I think it could make a big difference. I’m worried (as many of you may be) that some of our favorite studios and trainers will not be there when this is over. I know things will get better, but there are some hard realities to face in the meantime.
If you are not personally struggling with losing work or financially – here are ways to help support the fitness community and trainers right now:
Buy classes now, use later
If you currently have a membership to ClassPass, and that’s what you used in the past, I highly encourage you to instead purchase classes directly from studios. Pick one or two places you frequent the most and buy a class or a class pack now. Now is the time to support female owned, small business (many fitness studios are!). This brings money in now which is what the studios need — especially the small, individually owned brands.
If your studio membership is paused, consider buying some individual classes now to use again later. You can also buy a class gift card to give to a friend or family member.
Buy streaming workout apps/subscriptions + tell your friends
Everyone is working out at home and sharing their fave classes/brands on IG. Join in and buy a subscription to your fave studio instead of only doing free YouTube workouts. Share your fave classes with friends and encourage them to join you. Even better, take class “virtually” together!
Ask your fave trainers if they can train you via Skype or FaceTime
Many of your fave trainers may not have work right now. DM or email them to see if you can purchase a training session online. Many studios are offering this now, and I’m sure many trainers who are out of work at the moment would love to have the chance to train you one-on-one.
After you take a free class online, IG, or another channel — send a Venmo donation
Many instructors and brands are happy to give free content to help people out right now, and there’s no reason not to join in. If you can afford it, after you do a live free class, ask the instructor for their Venmo name and send them a donation. It can be small, or even what you’d pay in the studio. Either way, it will help!
Mercey Livingston is a freelance wellness and fitness writer. Her work appears in Well+Good, Women’s Health, Prevention.com, Business Insider among others. You read more of her work at merceylivingston.com and follow her on Instagram, @merceylivingston.